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A view of Athletics, number 4, New debate over long jump change takes off as Lewis flies into the argument

Jazmin Sawyers – a bad day

New debate over long jump change takes off as Lewis flies into the argument.



Did April Fool’s Day come early this year? Carl Lewis believes so.


At least, that was his reaction to the plan recently announced by World Athletics to trial a new format in the long jump whereby athletes will take off from anywhere within a zone rather than having to do so within the front line of a board.


The idea is to lose fouls – after data from last year’s World Championships in Budapest highlighted that a third of attempts in this discipline were no-jumps – and to ensure, simply, that the person who jumps farthest will win.


As a result of such a change, it is surmised that there will be not only more scoring jumps in competition but that they will tend to be longer – no wasted centimeters from take-offs shy of the end of the board.


And there will be no more supposedly empty moments for TV once attention turns to the long jump pit. Every attempt will count.


The new format could be implemented in 2026 if the trial proves successful.


Cue debate…


Lewis, now 62, is perhaps best known for his sprinting exploits, but regards himself as first and foremost a long jumper. He won four consecutive Olympic titles in this event from 1984 to 1996 and two world titles. And while he never held the outdoor world record he is widely regarded as the nonpareil in the event.

In one of a number of posts on X, Lewis says the new proposal “would just eliminate the most difficult skill from the event,” adding a basketball analogy: “Just make the basket larger for free throws because so many people miss them.”


In answer to someone suggesting that the change would produce “more big jumps”, Lewis replied: “Actually, it wouldn’t change the distances much. You would just see more bad jumps measured.”


Meanwhile, Britain’s European indoor champion, Jazmin Sawyers, has addressed the topic in her own way in a post listing potential pros and cons. “The idea apparently is that there is more jeopardy, and it keeps things moving apparently because there were too many fouls at the World Championships,” she says. “Apparently, there was a third. Which to me doesn’t sound that much…

Jazmin Sawyers, photo by Chiara Montesano for European Athletics


“So, while I’m not for this idea, let’s start…

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